Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Teaching Jay the psychology of soloing while hanging from a rope! Judgement day?

Working a 6c with Jay at the Ormes (Photo: Owen Jones)
Owen and I had an intense session at the Ormes with Jay yesterday, where we rigged up as system to allow me to coach Jay on route as he climbed on real rock outside.

Trying work out what was best for Jay in terms of instruction from what distance whilst trying to add as much value to his climbing experience was tricky. But on the third session, it happened and it had nothing to do with ropes and holds. It was about working out what it felt like to be Jay on that steep wall above the sea in an alien environment whilst trying to tame his urgency and un stoppable will to try hard.

I realized what it was and he went from falling off nearly every move to managing the whole route with one small slip low down. There is this urgency when on a route to get the fuck off it, it's a very natural feeling especially in the beginning of a climbing career but it is obviously what we manage down so we can keep climbing up.

Explaining to Jay that he would have to stay on this wall for at least 10 minutes to successfully complete the red point, resting and shaking out and just concentrating on small sections then managing his breathing down before attacking the next section with gusto was what worked for us.

Being free of ropes and giving in to climbing only 'up' when ready was what soloing was for me as a boy and it was this that created a space for Jay to accept the slower pace of climbing to assist in the completing of the route versus rushing into moves without consequence.

Jay's efforts are unbelievable some days and for me to learn what he sees and feels whilst climbing needs to match. We are getting there! It was the best coaching experience I have had to date.

We had a laugh while he was resting in the cave below the final crux and was 3ft away being a dope on a rope. We both hate being judged and I used this to fire him up to rip down on the crimps like his life depended on it. (well, it does!)

The real goal is much bigger than any wall or any grade. It's about using climbing to make Jay's journey to a more independent living real and achievable.The big solo...

Soloing Shibboleth... Judgement day!

Referrals from clients:

"...This training season I decided to get all the help I can to speed up my improvement. I needed guidance to work towards my goals in long term. I also needed more vision and opinions about my exercises and weak links. I am glad I can share my training with Mark..." (Ville Mustonen, Finland)

" I met Mark in Glen Nevis on his return to climbing to check out some lines he had in mind for me, I wasn't really training at this point but after a day or two talking and training with him I had a much more structured idea of what to do to improve and I did" (Kev Shields)